VW software chief eyes pay-as-you-go autonomy

VW is striving to create an operating system that’s scalable across all of its brands and capable of frequent over-the-air updates to enable enhancements such as driver assistance features – areas where Tesla is well ahead.

“We have vehicles ranging from entry-level to the latest luxury Bentley, which of course have very different software and hardware needs,” Hilgenberg said. “The layout of our next group-wide architecture is similar to what Tesla initially brought, but we wanted to take it a step further. That means high integration, more computing power and of course a different scope,” added Hilgenberg.

VW’s supervisory board is concerned about Cariad’s shortcomings and wants a company overhaul to speed up decision-making, German media reported.

Hilgenberg acknowledges that Cariad encountered some problems developing the architecture.

“The vehicle is much more complex than business applications, for example, so we need to ensure that data protection, security and safety is on a completely different level.”

One of the issues Cariad faces is providing regular live updates for consumers.

“Cariad’s role is to continuously work on releases, and brands can then choose from these developments and choose their update cycles. But it has to be done through due process. We also don’t want to overwhelm customers with an update every week,” he said.

In addition to adapting to the rapid development of autonomy and other connectivity issues in the industry, Cariad must also deal with the legacy of being part of the sprawling VW empire.

“Transformation is an active process, it’s a lot of friction. But it’s 20% technical challenge and 80% change — mental change and cultural change,” Hilgenberg said.

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